Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Not your Traditional-and-trite “New Year’s Resolutions” for Trying to Conceive

New Years is all about resolutions - "the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc." But waiting for January first and having the added pressure of the New Year can be overwhelming for many. Stephanie Roth from shares with us her take on traditional-and-trite “New Year’s Resolutions” and her top 7 "opportunities" that you can make room for in your life, to help you on your fertility journey. 

I never found setting resolutions to be a particularly valuable exercise. The few times I tried, I’d set resolutions like, “stop biting my nails,” “spend less money,” or my perennial favorite – “be a better person.”
Well, my resolutions would always crash and burn. Within 2 weeks, I was biting my nails again (a habit I still struggle with!), and I never set a budget. And how in the world was I supposed to know if I was being a better person or not? I never killed anybody, that has to count for something.
Four years ago on New Years, I rethought the idea of New Year’s Resolutions. I’d been trying to conceive for almost a year, and in that time, I’d had 2 miscarriages; a Diminished Ovarian Reserve diagnosis; a grim prediction that I had less than a 2% chance of getting pregnant; and a whole lot of negative pregnancy tests.
At New Year’s 2012-13, I was also in the middle of an imposed-upon-me break from fertility treatment. I’d had an IUI cycle cancelled just before the holidays.  Due to overall scheduling issues, that one month off turned into 3 months away from the fertility clinic.
This pause in treatment was a blessing in disguise. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on my motherhood dreams in a way that I hadn’t while consumed by the relentless grind of fertility treatment.
For the record, having a baby is not a New Year’s Resolution. It’s a goal.   Think of the resolutions as the intentional path you set to reach your goal. How you will do it.
I realized that it was time to clearly define the actions I needed to take to achieve my goal of becoming a mother. Resolutions, if you will.
If you’ve set becoming a mother as your primary goal for 2018, here’s a list of 7 New Year’s “Resolutions” you might consider.

1. Resolve to get help when you need it.

Some people are able to get pregnant without outside help. Others, like me and maybe like you, need a little extra help. Now is not the time to hide behind your pride and try to convince yourself that you’re invincible. If you’ve been trying for at least a year (6 months if you’re over 35), it’s time to call in the big guns.
Your fertility doctor will develop the right treatment plan for you based on your specific medical issues and concerns.
If you’re already in treatment, you can cross one resolution off the list as achieved! Hurray! Good for you! 
2. Resolve to seek out emotional support when times get hard.
Because they will get hard. Trying to conceive is no bed of roses, and it’s not for the faint of heart. There will be times when you’re wondering to yourself how much one person can possibly endure, both physically and emotionally.
There are lots of places to turn to for support during those times. Your partner, sister, best friend, and other friends and family are all great places to start.
Sometimes, however, we may feel like we need more focused support from others who’ve specifically been down this path or more professional help. This is a great time to investigate working with a fertility coach, seeking out in-person support groups in your area, finding online or virtual groups, or working with a therapist.
3. Resolve to nourish your body through healthy food and movement.
 The connection between our physical health and our fertility is undeniable. How and what we eat can make or break our efforts in trying to conceive. Incorporating more whole foods into your diet, while minimizing things like sugar and processed foods, will go a long way toward balancing your hormones and regulating your ovulation. Issues with ovulation are the number one cause of female infertility.
In addition to improving your fertility, eating a clean diet will improve your overall health as well, reducing inflammation and your chances of developing chronic, long-term illnesses.
 The other key piece to our physical health is moving our bodies. Experts recommend that a good exercise plan, if you’re trying to conceive, is 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, of moderate-intensity exercise. Aim for a combination of cardio and strength-building exercise.  If that’s too challenging for you right now, gentle movement like walking or yoga is terrific. Here are some other suggestions for incorporating exercise into your life.
Exercise helps improve your circulation, work your heart and other muscles, and keep your weight down, all of which are important to your health and fertility.
4. Resolve to get enough rest.
Not only will you feel better, but your fertility will also be improved. Many of our hormones are replenished while we sleep, including some of the reproductive hormones.
Try these strategies to get 8-9 hours of uninterrupted, quality sleep. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed each day, and your fertility will thank you.
5. Resolve to be gentle with yourself.
 It’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with others, especially people with children or who are expecting babies. Those feelings invariably creep up, but I hope you can remember that

There’s nothing wrong with you;

You’re doing the best that you can; and

You’re beautiful just as you are.

When you have those feelings of extreme stressenvy or self-doubt, it’s a great time to reach out to the support networks you’ve cultivated for yourself in resolution #2.

6. Resolve to reclaim your life.
 It might sound counterintuitive, but don’t be laser-focused on getting pregnant. Our bodies crave the balance that comes with focusing our attention on more than one priority.
While having a baby might be your biggest priority, it’s important to find and nurture other priorities in your life. Things like your passions, hobbies, friends and other relationships. Think back to before you started trying to have a baby, what were the things that made you feel so happy and alive?
Give yourself the time to do them. You’ll not only feel happier, but you’ll recharge your batteries for continuing on your fertility path.
This is a jam-packed list, and it’s a lot to take on. If you tried to do all of this at once, your resolutions would meet the same fate as mine used to. Pick what feels most important to pay attention to right now, and focus on that for a little while. Maybe after a few months, it will be time to add another.
The most important thing and this is the final resolution –
7. Resolve to take some action each day, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, toward your goal of becoming a mother.
One day, it may be going out for a walk in nature. The next day, it might be eating a delicious, fertility-boosting meal. Then, it might be lunch with a friend. The important thing is to do purposefully and mindfully do something every day, schedule it, stick to it, and have faith that collectively these actions are bringing you closer and closer to your ultimate dream of motherhood.
What are your intentions for 2018 around your fertility goal?
(originally posted at B Fit, B Fertile on 1/5/17 - 
Featured on Huffington Post 1/5/17 and Stephanie Roth)

Stephanie Roth
Fertility Consultant & Coach

Le'ts connect!  Find me on FacebookInstagramPinterest and Twitter
Read my blogs: Your Fertile Self and B Fit, B Fertile, for Conceive Fertility Hospital

Monday, 27 November 2017

12 Not-So-Sweet facts about sugar and how it can be hurting your fertility health

For many women suffering from PCOS, endometriosis, hormonal issues and autoimmune issues, sugar is one of the most harmful substances you can be ingesting. From the obvious sugary foods to foods that turn into sugar (like refined carbohydrates), these can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes. Over time leading to irregular menstrual cycles, disrupted ovulation patterns, insulin resistance and adrenal fatigue. I’m not here to tell you that you have to kiss your cookies or bread goodbye forever, but you need to understand that all forms of sugar can be having a significant impact on your ability to get pregnant.

As a society, we’ve got a problem with sugar. Our on again, off again relationship with the sweet stuff is damaging our fertility in more ways than one. 25 to 30 grams of sugar a day is the suggested amount, depending on what association or organisation you ask. The World Health Organisation backs this up and recommends that adults get less than 10 percent of their daily calories from not only added sugar, but also natural sugars in honey, syrup, or fruit juice. Ideally, that works to 25 grams for a 2,000 calorie diet. That's six to seven teaspoons of sugar a day- not a lot when you start to add it up. Many of us are unaware of the dangers of sugar on our fertility and have little or no true facts. This post isn't here to tell you to stop eating all things sugar. It's here to get you thinking about sugar in more ways than one and to recognise how much sugar you're actually eating. So let's look into some nuggets of knowledge and interesting facts about all things sugar - remember knowledge is power!
1. There’s sugar hiding in plain sight. You think you’re being good by staying away from the Coke and the office doughnuts, but added sugar is present in 74 percent of packaged foods in supermarkets, according to a report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And don’t be fooled by all the “healthy” paleo bars and snacks. One little bar can hold up to 18 grams of sugar in it - that’s over 1/2 your daily intake.

2. Every time you eat foods high in sugar, your pancreas must secrete insulin to convert the sugar in your blood into energy. Repeated frequently, you may develop insulin resistance, leading to high levels of insulin, which can inhibit ovulation, autoimmune issues and can cause metabolic disorders, including PCOS. 

3. All carbs are not created equal and the carbs you find in bread, pasta and breakfast cereals will make your blood sugar levels skyrocket (this is called a high glycemic effect) and then you'll come down with a crash. Repeated blood sugar level spikes from eating these types of foods, put stress on your internal organs. This effect causes a fight or flight reaction with your adrenal glands, and they begin to produce more cortisol and adrenaline to try and replenish sugar levels. Repeated consumption of these poor carbs signals this effect over and over, weakening the adrenal glands and slowing hormone production, also increasing your chances of insulin resistance leading to higher risks of developing chronic issues that affect your fertility. So you may think you're not eating sugar when you eat these types of carbs, but your body does, and that's all that matters. On top of that, sugar is put into a lot packaged bread, including "whole grain" kinds and cereals. A beloved blow of Weetabix comes in at 4.4g of sugar per 100g, and Special K has 12g of sugar per 100g; and you haven't even added fruit,  honey, low-fat yoghurt or skimmed milk yet - we'll talk about those later.
4. Sugar can have negative affects your immune system. Eating just a tablespoon can lower your immunity for up to four hours, so imagine what eating processed carbs for every meal or just one sugary snack daily is doing to your body - something to really think about if you have autoimmune issues.

5. Many low-fat foods, including milk, yoghurts, snacks, cereals and ready meals contain more sugar than their “full fat” equivalents - in some cases more than five times as much! Most of these products are promoted as a healthy-eating option and marketed to women wanting to eat a low-fat diet. But as many as you know, for some reason you just can't lose weight - the simple reason for this is because you're consuming way more sugar than you should be. And this can lead to any of the fertility issues we talked about before - PCOS, endometriosis, hormonal issues and autoimmune issues. an excellent way to remember that low-fat is not always the best: They're taking out all the yummy fat, so to make it taste good they have to replace it. Most likely, it's going to be replaced with sugar!! 

6. Obviously, there’s sugar in alcoholic drinks and I’m sure you can google what drinks have the lowest amount of sugar in them. But alcohol itself has a confusing effect on blood sugar levels, as it prevents the liver from producing glucose. One consequence of this is that hypoglycemia can occur after a night of drinking - in sort your blood sugar levels drop, meaning your adrenals will have to go into overdrive to make up for this (we talked all about the adrenals in number nugget of knowledge.) Now, a glass or two every once in awhile I’m sure is not going to have a big overall impact on your blood sugar levels. But if red wine is your best friend (she’s one of mine) then a friendship break might be needed for a little while.

7. While fruits are full of goodness including Copper, Biotin, Potassium, Fiber, Vitamin B6 & C, Manganese, many of us don’t realise how much sugar is actually in our fruit and remember sugar is sugar. Obviously, the primary sugar which you’ll find in fruit is fructose, “the sugar that’s most damaging to our health.” (The Better Baby Book by L. Asprey, MD & D. Asprey). High fructose levels go directly to the liver, where the organ repackages it as blood fats called triglycerides. These high fructose levels can also contribute to insulin resistance a big issue for a lot of women dealing with fertility issues. Now a piece or two a day will do you good, just remember to add it to your total sugar count. (Great website to check out the sugar levels in all different types of fruits) I used to eat loads of fruit, thinking I was being good. But in hindsight, I was pushing my sugar count WAY UP! Don't forget your beloved smoothies. Look at the sugar line next time you pick up a bottle of Innocent, Naked or Savse - I think you'll be amazed at how much sugar is in one little drink!!
8. It's not all about you either. Your male partner has a significant role to play in creating life - like 50%!! And surprise, surprise the effect of sugar on male fertility can be just as damaging. Men who eat too much sugar can suffer from insulin resistance, which can have an impact on their hormone disruption due to the overstimulation of the adrenal glands. Sugar can also have a big effect on their immunity, leaving them open to illnesses which may have an impact on sperm count.

9. There are at least 61 different names the food producers have come up with to try and trick us on the nutrient labels. Corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup, Dextrose or crystal dextrose, Fructose, Maltose, Lactose, Sucrose, Glucose, Evaporated cane juice or fruit juice, Caramel, Carob syrup, Brown sugar, Raw sugar, Dextrin and maltodextrin, Rice Syrup, Molasses, Evaporated corn sweetener, Confectioner’s powdered sugar, Agave nectar, Other fruit nectars (for example, pear nectar),  Cane crystal, Cane sugar, Corn Sweetener, Crystalline Fructose, Dextrose, Fruit juice concentrates, Honey, Invert sugar, Lactose, Maltose, Malt syrup, Molasses, Raw sugar, Sucrose and Syrup. Using a name for sugar that the consumer might not be aware of, makes it easier to skim over a long ingredient name in a hurry during a rushed shop and inadvertently take in more sugar than you want to. 

10.Natural Sweeteners such as Coconut Sugar, Honey, Maple Syrup, Stevia and Blackstrap Molasses to name a few STILL have sugar in them! Don't be fooled by the word natural - this doesn't mean because it's natural you can have as much as you'd like. Your body still has to process that sugar and the same effect happen within your body when you eat it. One teaspoon of honey has 5 grams of sugar, and my guess is you use a little more than one teaspoon on top of your oats or in your daily smoothie!?! And although all these Natural Sweeteners do have many things good for you and may be called superfoods - just be conscious that the bad effects of the sugar might out the way the other benefits you can get from these Natural Sweeteners. 
11. Don't be fooled by artificial sweeteners including Aspartame and Sucralose aka Splenda. They hold a host of their own potential health problems and have been shown to increases blood glucose levels similar to sugar. Click the links for more info.

12. According to brain scans, sugar is as addictive as cocaine (Forbesand can cause major cravings, leaving you wanting more and more and more! We’ve all been there, and it’s a hard cycle to get off of. Start slowly, pick one or two "surgery" items listed above and cut them out of your life and work slowly on cutting them all out. Recognise what kind of person you are - can you have the occasional surgery snack/meal or do you just need to go cold turkey and not give in for 30 days plus!?! This is a big factor in being successful. 

And there they are - I hope you have learnt something new or have been reminded of a little nugget of knowledge you've forgotten. I know how it feels to watch your friends get pregnant on a “normal” diet and you’ll see others around you be able to get pregnant easily on frankly a sh*t diet, including alcohol and drugs. It’s unfair, but it’s life. The sooner you accept that’s not going to be you the less struggle and heartache you’ll have. We all have different genetics, and yours is what has lead you here. Don't compare yourself to others - it's a waste of time. 

Be mindful of what you're eating. Find a diet that works for you - start with (as much as you can) organic, real food. By doing this, you’re giving your body the nutrient dense natural building blocks you need to rebuild and support the necessary functions of your reproductive system. Through a clean diet, you can take control of your fertility and promote the natural production and balance of your hormones, a healthy menstrual cycle, egg development (which starts three months before ovulation), embryo development, implantation, and gestation.
If you'd like any support on your own journey or have any questions Let's Talk
Please remember that this is simply my story and what I have gone through. These are my opinions, that I have formed over the years, through trial and error, study, reading, listening and observing. I am open to change, challenges and new scientific developments. What works for me, may not work for you. I am not a doctor and all medical advice should be gotten from a qualified professional. If you feel like your doctor isn't reading from the same nutrition and lifestyle book as you are (or want to be), go find one that is!

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Life will forever be filled with good and bad. It's your choice how it defines you.

Miscarriages can rock your world in so many different ways. For us, this couldn't be truer. Our two miscarriages were so completely different, and we had polar opposite reactions, feelings, emotions and experience to go along with them. But let's go back to the beginning. We spent most of our trying to conceive years not getting pregnant, not once, not even one faint pink line. We're talking 5+ years- from late 2008 to early 2014 wondering why - we were "healthy", everything was there and in working order, so WTF.

We went through a horrendous round of IVF that answered a question we weren't even asking. We were merely told: you're unhealthy and you're making shitty embryos. Not by our doctors, they just said it was one of those things, and nothing could be done (read more about that journey here). But we couldn't be naive about the four low grade, very fragmented embryos. So we took matters into our own hands, switching clinics and went onto a Paleo type diet. Our next round of IVF was much more successful - 5 healthy embryos, but we were still left with a BFN, and our unexplained infertility was still the elephant in the room. We finally did immune testing (which we were told we weren't candidates for because I didn't have reassuring miscarriages) and there it was, our answer - THE answer - High NK Cells. My bodies immune system was so out of whack; it wasn't even entertaining the idea of allowing a foreign invader hang around. But this didn't mean I never got sick- far from it (you can read more about that here).

Because it took us so long to find our answer, you can imagine there was a lot of time spent confused, angry, hurt, and well let's just face it - drunk as f*ck. So when I finally woke up to the fact that all these emotions weren't doing me any favours, I went on an emotional Hippy journey to get my happiness back (you can read more about that here). Infertility had taken over my life and not in a very positive way. So I started journaling, meditating, yoga and just trying to be an overall better person. Along with this, we worked hard on our new diet and used immune surprising drugs and went to do our first Frozen Embryo Transfer. Two weeks later we got the phone call that it all had paid off and we FINALLY got our first BFP.
During the three week wait we were posted to a small beach village in the north of Wales and now lived 4 hours from our clinic. So the morning of our seven-week scan, we were up early to drive to the clinic and then making our way down to London for a day enjoying the tennis at Wimbledon. I was grateful that my husband was there with me (something that doesn't always happen) and hopes were high. I can't really say I felt pregnant, but I was just trying to stay as positive and not focus on symptoms. Our clinic is small, homely place, so we didn't wait long, and I soon found myself in the familiar position of being half dressed, legs up and spread open wide! But that's where the fun ended, and our dreams were once again smashed. The nurse said she needed to call the doctor in, which is never a good sign. The doctor confirmed there was no heartbeat and that was that. 

Tears did fall, but not hard. The hippy journey I talked about before helped me to to be grateful that my body was able to get pregnant. Something I thought for six years couldn't happen. I know most women don't want to hear "well at least you know you can get pregnant." I get it and respect that, but for me, that's ALL I wanted to know. So as we drove down to London obviously deflated, but we talked about the future, and it looked bright. The next day we had a good time at Wimbledon, sat in the rain getting drunk on beer not watching much tennis. Looking back it was probably the most appropriate situation to be in to suit our mood(s). 

I decided to have a natural miscarriage, as I had had enough of strangers looking up my lady parts and couldn't bear the thought of any more hospital time. It took a few weeks for my body to process all the synthetic hormones and start the process. Not sure why my clinic didn't warn me, maybe it's not their area of expertise - but f*ck me. Long story short, I basically went into a mini labour - contractions and all and passed a small sack. To say the least, it all came as a big shock and hurt like hell. To make matters worse, I was on my own in a tiny remote village in North Wales. So a day of hell quickly claimed down, and the next day I went out like nothing ever happened. I felt good and was happy that it was all said and done. 

Needless to say, I overdid it, and at 3 am the next morning I started to bleed heavily and ended up driving myself 30 minutes to the ER, just in case something was really wrong. I had zero knowledge about what was going on; I didn't even Google early miscarriage at any point from finding out there was no heartbeat. I let my husband know what was going on via text and 12 hours later I was given the all clear and drove myself home to have a few days of complete rest - luckily I did the shopping the day before - insert roll of the eyes here. I was grateful I knew the pregnancy wasn't viable before all this happened - I had a few weeks to work on the emotional side of dealing with it all, so the fact I had to deal with the physical side by myself was that much more manageable. 
So my first pregnancy and my first miscarriage go hand in hand. As sad as it may have seemed, the whole situation gave me my hope back. It gave me the drive to keep fighting. Because to be honest I don't think I would have had any left if I didn't get pregnant on that round. I now knew focusing on my health outweighed all the inconvenience and decided to even go deeper with my journaling, meditation, yoga and diet - going full AIP. I committed to absolutely NO cheat days January 1st, 2015 - a whole three months before we started our second FET. All the hard work and scarifies paid off (along with the support of immune-suppressing drugs) - December 2, 2015 (7 years after we started our journey) we welcomed a beautiful baby boy into our family.

I truly believed that the diet and lifestyle changes not only helped us achieve our goal but also was going to put us on the right path of improving not only my fertility health but my overall long-term health. So when we went into our third and final FET, we were highly confident and I once again committed to (as such as possible with a toddler in tow) a clean lifestyle three months before we started the process. We made it through and got another positive result. But it was short-lived, a week later I had an early miscarriage, which came on quickly and to be honest, nothing worse than a regular period. I arranged for a confirmation scan (that's what I called it) at my clinic a few days later. Luckily the scan was conclusive, and no signs of an ectopic pregnancy were present. They took blood, and my beta came back at 10. I was asked to come back in for another blood test (they like to see it at 0). I politely declined and said I was confident my body would get there and felt confident that it was on it's way to being all said and done. 

So that was it, THE END and it was the end of a very long emotional and expensive journey. So physically this miscarriage was quicker and easier, but it hit was harder emotionally in a few different ways. One- we were overly confident that it was going to work. We thought we knew the correct formula (having achieved a successful outcome before), we did everything "right" in regards to diet and lifestyle and had not only one, but two beautiful embryos put back in. Surely at least ONE of them would stay strong- right? Secondly; it was our last embryos we had on ice, so in our heads that was our last shot - we had already decided we weren't going to do any more treatment. Again, my hippy journey helped me to stay grateful that we were walking away from it all with a beautiful, healthy baby boy and I was beyond happy with that. 
I will always wonder what those two babies (along with the four embryos that were put back in, before we found out about my overactive immune system) would have been, but it's not something I think of often- to be honest, I can't even remember my due dates. The emotions dealing with the two failed IVFs and the two miscarriages will forever be a part of me, but I've chosen to put my life into perspective. This has had a very powerful and positive effect on my life. I've decided to live my life along these lines: "The Universe does not deal in kindness and cruelty. Defining the experience is your karma." - J. Rush. As much as the years of BFNs and not knowing were hard, the two failed IVFs were frustrating, and the two miscarriages were painful, I personally feel it wasn't and still isn't the worst thing that can happen in life. Not that its a comparison or a competition to who had it worst, not at all - I know some have had it a lot harder and a lot easier. It's simply just the way I've decided to define my experience. I've chosen to walk away from it all, with the understanding that life will forever be filled with good and bad, but it's your choice how it defines you. 
If you'd like any support on your own journey or have any questions Let's Talk
Please remember that this is simply my story and what I have gone through. These are my opinions, that I have formed over the years, through trial and error, study, reading, listening and observing. I am open to change, challenges and new scientific developments. What works for me, may not work for you. I am not a doctor and all medical advice should be gotten from a qualified professional. If you feel like your doctor isn't reading from the same nutrition and lifestyle book as you are (or want to be), go find one that is!

Monday, 9 October 2017

Commitment Quotes - Free Printable

Over the recent weeks, I’ve talked to two different friends who have been struggling with keeping the commitment to improving their health - especially through nutrition. One is having fertility issues and the other is having "normal" day issues that are getting worse and worse. It surprises me that these commitments are so hard to make when so much is at stake - your health!! But then I remind myself, I’ve been there and it’s hard. It’s hard to come to terms that you’re not the girl who is going to eat a bunch of shit and be healthy or at least seem to be healthy - like not having gut issues or memory issues or joint pain or not being able to get pregnant by your partner just looking at you - HELL, not even by your first round of IVF - yep that was me!! 

I understand that one conversation or even many conversations might not change or inspired the way my friends think about nutrition and health, as with both of my friends - it hasn’t. We're talking about years that they’ve been having these issues and still not being able to commit to the level of change that’s going to make a difference in their life. So I thought - what could I do to help them and inspire them to commit to their self this changes and stop being the nagging friend? I know I get really inspired by affirmations and different quotes I see on IG and hear on different podcasts. (Great one - The Quote of the Day ShowSo I thought why not make them a few commitment quote cards, that they can put around the house and be inspired on a daily, maybe even on an hourly basis to keep to the commits they keep talking about wanting to make. 
Put them around the house for daily reminders.
To make your own commitment cards, simply print (get them here for free), cut them out. Optional - back them with a fun colorful background and laminate.Then put them around the house where you'll get a daily, sometimes hourly reminder of the commitments you've made to improve your fertility health. You can also put them in your handbag next to your wallet, so when you go to buy something you know you shouldn't be eating/drinking you can be inspired to resist the urge. They're also handy in any other space where you spend a lot of your time, like in the office or car!! I’ve made a few different styles of cards because my friends are totally different. One is religious and one is not and its all about finding what they connect with the most. 

What's going to inspire you to commit to loving yourself enough to make some big changes? 
Choose Your Style of Commitment -

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If you'd like any support on your own journey or have any questions Let's Talk
Please remember that this is simply my story and what I have gone though. These are my opinions, that I have formed over the years, through trial and error, study, reading, listening and observing. I am open to change, challenges and new scientific developments. What works for me, may not work for you. I am not a doctor and all medical advice, should be gotten from a qualified professional. If you feel like your doctor isn't reading from the same nutrition and lifestyle book as you are (or want to be), go find one that is!

Friday, 6 October 2017

Take Them With You- Sweet Potato Egg Muffins by: Alexa

Who couldn’t use a little extra convenience these days? Whether you are off to fight traffic to get to work or drop your little ones off at school, adults and kids both struggle to get in a wholesome, but quick breakfast option on fast-paced mornings. These Sweet Potato Egg Muffins are perfect for this scenario!

Eggs are one of the best foods for us. They offer a source of complete protein and (harmless) cholesterol. Pastured eggs are especially beneficial, providing us with Vitamin K2 and a bounty of other vitamins and minerals to support our skin, brain, and bones, plus protect us against cancer and heart disease. I eat three eggs every morning as part of a substantial breakfast!
If you are on the AIP diet, eggs are one of the first reintroductions suggested. 
If tolerated, they are an amazing food to incorporate back into your diet!

These muffins take little time to prepare, but they can fuel you all week long. 
Simply make a batch and refrigerate. You can eat these cold or warm them up. 

  1. Fill a small pot with enough water to cover the sweet potato, and bring to a boil. S the potato and add it to the boiling water.
  2. While the sweet potato is boiling, dice enough yellow onion to make 2 TBSP, and add to a medium-sized bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Also, line a (6) cupcake tin with baking cups.
  3. Once you are able to pierce the sweet potato with a fork, remove it from the water and pat dry. Cut into small, bite-sized chunks and add to the bowl.
  4. Stir everything together and divide the mixture evenly into the cupcake tin.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Optional step: Beat the eggs before combining with the rest of the ingredients for fluffier muffins.

If you opt not to beat the eggs, the muffins will still come out just as tasty. While this combination of sweet potato and onion works well, swapping out other veggies you prefer (or have on hand, or you need to use up) will be just fine. Plus, switching the veggies out and/or adding meat keeps you from getting bored of the same flavors each week.
Making egg breakfast muffins is a lifesaver for my family who needs a quick source of fuel during the week. What are some tips you have for convenience on busy mornings?

Alexa is the owner and writer of her blog, Girl in Healing, where she strives to teach those newly diagnosed with autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis the power of a real food lifestyle. She will be a practicing AIP Certified Coach and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner by the end of 2017. You can follow along with her on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

Little Man loved getting involved and told me that the raw sweet potato was yummy!
Our first batch of Alex's Sweet Potato Egg Muffins were delicious and easy to make. We weren't in a rush, so we added some fresh avocado and Raw Sauerkraut from Loving Foods - but for sure looking forward to having these for on the go meals! Thanks Alex for creating and sharing!!

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Secondary Infertility

I got the honour of doing a guest post for Helen at Secondary Infertility Matters
Check out the great work she's doing over at Secondary Infertility Matters

Secondary Infertility Matters


You’ve had a baby (congratulations)! Maybe it wasn’t planed or you know the exact moment of conception – either way you’ve done it once and you’ve now set out to do it again. But the same formula that worked before isn’t working and the frustration, doubt and sadness is setting in. Diana E. Chavkin MD said it best, “having a child once is not a magic potion that guarantees eternal fertility.” So you go to your doctors and they’ve diagnosed you with secondary infertility – “finding it difficult to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term, despite already having had a child without any trouble.” You’re sat there with a funny look on your face, because you could have told your doc that yourself. “But Why” is the question you want answered and if you’re lucky enough, you have an amazing doctor who’s going to find the root cause of why. If you don’t you’ll have to do the digging yourself! Let’s look into a  few different reasons why secondary infertility happens.

An issue that has got worse since your last pregnancy
For many women, their first pregnancy was a happy surprise as they “weren’t even trying.” And when looking at the big picture, it might have been a stroke of luck – as conception is a numbers game, up to a certain point. If you were lucky the first time, you might have assumed that meant that everything was in full working order, when maybe it wasn’t. A few years have pasted and life’s stresses have inflamed your hidden issue. Issues like PCOS, endometriosis and autoimmune issues effecting the thyroid and immune system, can flareup, or even present themselves for the first time.

Your last pregnancy it self
Pregnancy, giving birth and caring for a baby are all big deals, but are often downplayed by modern society. They can individually or collectively have a big impact on your body and can trigger underlining issue, especially on your hormones, thyroid and adrenals.
Old wounds, like scar tissue from a caesarean or previous surgery, can sometimes create  blockages in the womb. A post-partum haemorrhage or a retained placenta, which can cause infection in the womb and block the fallopian tubes, can all be factors and have an big impact on fertility.

Something traumatic could have happen after the birth of your last child or your body has reached a point where it can’t deal all the stressors you’re putting on it (we all have different tipping points), which can unexpectedly knock you’re body out of line, leading to hormonal imbalance and autoimmune issues.

Age and Health
And lets not forget the classic diagnosis of old age, embryo & sperm quality, diet choices and weight issues, which we all know can all have an impact on your fertility.
When your struggling to conceive again, it can cause an enormous amount of stress and anxiety. But finding your root case is essential to your success. When you do find all the pieces to the puzzle, you’ll be able to focus on what needs to be done to fix it. Everyone will be different and remember, for most of us there’s no quick fix- you’ll have to put in the hard work and rewire your fertility links. 

Working with a specialist is the best way to untangle the web of confusing information, but here are a few tips to get you started.

Old Wounds-
If you think issues maybe linked to scar tissue, a post-partum haemorrhage, retained placenta or blocked tubes, please seek medical help.

Find out what foods work and don’t work for you! The cheep (but long) route is an elimination diet or your Functional Medicine Practitioner, FDNer or Doctor can run food sensitive tests for you. This is key in restoring peace and cutting out inflammation. Go organic (grass fed) and non-GMO with as much of your food as you can afford and try to add in grass fed animal (chicken, beef or lamb) bone broth 2 to 3 times a week and eat the organs- Totally gross, but a MUST for optimal health.

Take Care of your Gut
It all starts in the gut – a healthy gut dramatically improves your health & fertility. Also, your growing babies’ digestive tract will be colonized by the same bacteria in your gut – how amazing is that!?! This is simply done (again) by eating clean, being conscious about how much sugar you’re having a day and supporting good bacteria by eating Lacto-Fermented Foods or taking a good probiotic (not those silly yogurt drinks)!

Movement and Sleep
Keep moving – Yoga, Walking, Weight Lifting, Swimming – Get your heart rate up! Find what works best for you and do it 3 to 5 times a week! Try not to over do it – if you have adrenal issues, hitting it hard at the gym is one of the worst things for your body. And then Sleep. Sleep is one of the most underrated habits you can do for your health. Find what works for you – I’m a 7 to 9 hours type of girl & that works great for me! I do find that if I go to bed later than midnight, I feel like a zombie, even if I get 7 hours. If this sounds familiar to try to get to bed before 10 pm, as every hour before midnight is worth two hours.

Take Control of your Emotions and De-Stress
Two things that I learned about emotions, during my journey- 1: Take responsibility for your emotions- Sorry, but the excuse that someone made you feel that way is BS- no one can make you feel something. 2: Acknowledge your emotions- give them the support they need and then let them go. Once I embraced these two little nuggets of knowledge, my journey became a little less rocky and I became a little less vulnerable. The knowledge that I had full control over how I reacted to the events that have and will unfold in my life completely changed the way I looked at the world around me. This helped me to reduce stress my life and not sweat the small stuff. Meditate daily. Five minutes or an hour- Just do it- It will change your life and it’s FREE (the only thing that is, in this process)!! Think meditation is for hippies? Read 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works: A True Story. Take walks outside, read a book, engage in a hobby, take time for yourself- it’s a must!!

If you'd like any support on your own journey or have any questions Let's Talk
Please remember that this is simply my story and what I have gone though. These are my opinions, that I have formed over the years, through trial and error, study, reading, listening and observing. I am open to change, challenges and new scientific developments. What works for me, may not work for you. I am not a doctor and all medical advice, should be gotten from a qualified professional. If you feel like your doctor isn't reading from the same nutrition and lifestyle book as you are (or want to be), go find one that is!